Duggar family members will appear on the TLC sexual abuse documentary now scheduled to air on Sunday, August 30 at 10 p.m. EDT, the network announced today. The show is titled Breaking the Silence, and it will air without commercials.
TLC published plans to produce a documentary about sexual abuse of children when it formally cancelled the Duggar family series, 19 Kids and Counting, on July 16. This was on the heels of shocking revelations that Josh Duggar had molested at least four of his sisters and another unnamed minor girl inside the Duggar family home. Josh is the eldest of the 19 children born to Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.
"Over these past weeks, TLC has consulted regularly with leading victims' rights and advocacy organizations in the U.S., including RAINN [Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network] and Darkness to Light, to discuss how to use this moment to address the issue and make a positive impact. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is not an isolated issue; it affects many children and families around the world. To that end, we are partnering with both organizations on a multi-platform campaign to raise awareness and educate parents and families about the issue. In the first phase of this initiative, TLC will work closely with both groups and with the Duggar family on a one-hour documentary that will include Jill and Jessa and other survivors and families that have been affected by abuse."
On May 19, In Touch magazine revealed that Josh Duggar had been the subject of sexual abuse allegations in 2006. That same day, TLC stopped televising reruns of the Duggar family show as advertising sponsors bailed.
On May 21, the magazine published the actual police reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, which contained police investigators' interviews with parents Jim Bob and Michelle and four of their daughters. More released documents revealed that the parents failed to notify the authorities before the statute of limitations ran out, and neither the parents nor Josh could be prosecuted for criminal offenses. Disillusioned fans of the Duggar family were heartbroken when it was disclosed that the Duggar parents failed to get professional counseling for their children immediately after the sexual abuse occurred.
"Jim Bob and Michelle did not get him [Josh] – or their daughters – counseling from a licensed mental health professional for at least 16 months. They have said the children did receive counseling but refuse to say if it was court ordered after the Families In Need of Services and the Arkansas Department of Human Services became involved in the Duggar case.
"Several legal experts tell In Touch that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar could have faced up to six years in prison for their actions and been charged with Permitting Abuse of a Minor (Arkansas Code 5-27-221)."
When the police reports were published, Josh Duggar posted an apology online, but he never admitted to specific crimes.
"I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends."
At this point, it is known that the family had employed Chad Gallagher (adviser to presidential candidate Mike Huckabee) to give them public relations advice and act as a behind-the-scenes spin doctor. In an interview with Megan Kelly on The Kelly File, which aired on Fox News June 3, Michelle Duggar is seen carefully following notes in her lap while Jim Bob often looks down at his lit-up cell phone. In the interview, the parents attempted to defend their actions while the abuse occurred.
Megan Kelly also interviewed two of the four sibling molestation victims, Jessa and Jill. Jill broke down in tears while explaining how being publicly identified as a victim has affected her.
Both girls expressed that the counseling they finally received was most helpful. Perhaps more will be said about this in the TLC special.
The special will be aired a week before the entire Duggar family attends the wedding of cousin Amy Duggar, who – along with her grandmother Mary and her mother Deanna – is in the midst of a scandal of her own.
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[Photo credit: Intro photo courtesy of Darkness to Light]